Cataract is an eye condition that can cause temporary blindness if left untreated. However, and luckily, cataract surgery can correct this.

So what are the causes and symptoms of this condition?

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a decrease in the transparency of the eye's crystalline lens that leads to a progressive and painless loss of visual acuity. This transparent part of the eye, behind the pupil, is shaped like a lens with two convex sides. It focuses the light on the retina to create a clear image. When the lens becomes opaque, vision becomes blurred. As a result, the light received by the retina cannot correctly reproduce the perceived image.

Although people over the age of 65 are more frequently affected by cataracts, this condition does not only affect seniors! There are several types of cataracts, such as:

  • congenital cataract, present at birth;
  • the nuclear cataract, which affects the center of the lens;
  • the cortical cataract, presenting a whitish opaque rim or streaks;
  • posterior subcapsular cataract;
  • traumatic cataract following an injury.
  • taking certain medications can also cause cataracts.

Everything happens inside the eye without any irritation or burning sensation.

Causes and cataract symptoms

What causes cataracts?

Certain risk factors may cause the development of cataracts. These include:

  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cholesterol.
  • Ageing.
  • Certain medications such as cortisone.
  • Specific treatments such as radiation therapy.
  • Unprotected sun exposure.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Trauma.
  • Certain ocular pathologies (uveitis, glaucoma, myopia, etc.).


Cataracts are progressive. You may not notice them at first, but they can cause serious vision problems. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Blurred, fuzzy or decreased vision.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Sensitivity to light and glare.
  • Needing more light while reading or during other activities.
  • Seeing halos around lights.
  • Colours appear more discoloured.
  • Double vision in one eye.
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription.

The condition can affect one or both eyes. However, its progression is usually slow, allowing time to treat it.

How to prevent this pathology?

This condition is not 100% preventable. However, there are steps you can take to ensure your eyes stay healthy longer:

  • Schedule regular eye exams.
  • Manage your health problems with prescribed treatments.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Wear quality sunglasses.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and maintain a healthy diet in general.

During an eye exam, the optometrist checks the condition of the lens with specialized equipment. If you think you have blurred vision, your optometrist may prescribe eyeglasses to help preserve your visual acuity. Better sunglasses can also improve your visual comfort.

Cataract surgery

The most effective treatment for cataracts is surgery. In this case, the optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist. During surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.Through modern techniques and technology, this surgery is a very safe procedure. This simple procedure, performed under local anesthesia, usually takes about an hour. The surgeon operates on one eye at a time. Days after surgery, eye drops must be administered. The recovery time is about a month for a full recovery.

Aftercare follow-up with the optometrist

During the postoperative examination, your optometrist will determine if you still need glasses for your near, intermediate or distance vision. In fact, you may no longer need glasses or contact lenses after your surgery.

Whether it's for cataract symptoms or a follow-up after surgery, schedule an eye exam with one of our IRIS optometrists today.